United States Senators have rejected attempts to open a debate on a bill which proposed lifting a ban on openly gay people serving in the US military.
The existing policy, known as 'don't ask don't tell', allows gay people to serve, provided they don't reveal their sexuality.
Only 56 senators voted in favour of debating the bill, four short of the 60 required.
Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (both Democrats) sided with Republicans to block the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, also voted against the measure as a procedural tactic.
Gay people can serve in the military, but face expulsion if they reveal their sexuality.
Democrats still try again later this year to pass the legislation.
The Pentagon is conducting a study into how repeal might be implemented, but the BBC reports there are fears it could damage morale at a time when the armed forces are fighting two wars.